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The Keck Group's Church Pew Refinishing Since 1972

Dear Bob, As the Church's owner representative on our major renovation project and on behalf of the church, I want to thank you for your outstanding performance on the pew renovation. The pews look amazing and have drawn rave reviews from the congregation. Your advice as we considered finish and other options put us on the right path. The refinishing and reuphostering was done efficiently and professionally. You really went above and beyond expectations when you responded to the scheudule pinch that we created by our late fabric selection. As you recall, having all three sections done by the end of August and having the center section done for a wedding in mid-August was critical to us. The innovative phasing that you suggested and then the implemented worked perfectly and made it possible for us to meet all of our deadlines. As one who's been involved in a lot of projects over the years, it was a pleasure to deal with people who take a problem not of their making and solve it instead of using it as an excuse. Thanks for working with us on this important project. Sincerely yours, William K. Wakefield Nassau Project Manager

William K. Wakefield

Oct 02, 2018

Trinity Church

The third and existing Trinity Church was finished in 1846, and as the tallest building in lower Manhattan, it’s towering gothic spire was the welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor.  Trinity Church is a registered National Landmark.

After earlier renovations in which the pews were not restored, the church has hired, through Sciame Construction, The Keck Group to restore the pews and matching wainscot.  Besides refinishing, the pews are undergoing many ergonomic changes, which include:

  • Lowering the pew ends six inches which is no easy task and requiring great skill to keep the visual as exists.
  • Cutting the high backs down six inches.
  • Replacing the flat seats with new contoured seats.
  • Eliminating the divider wall and substituting new joiners.
  • Modifying the wainscot to accept the new design.
  • Manufacturing and installing new mid supports.
  • Manufacturing and installing five new pews to replicate the modified existing.

We removed the pews, screens and wainscot in mid-May and plan on installing when the church interior is completed in November, 2019.


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Oct 02, 2018

The Keck Group Restorers of pews in 10 recent cathedral projects

The Keck Group has moved through the years from pew refinishers to pew restoration specialists as the need arises for ergonomic adjustments in pew design because of the increased size of church attendees.

Many of the older church pews had flat seats, straight backs perpendicular to the seats and short seats.  Historically significant pews generally fall into this category because of their earlier age of construction.

Many of the Cathedral pews listed below fall into this category.

Recent Cathedral Pew Restoration Projects:

Churches in progress

Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston MA

Trinity Church, Lower Manhattan

St. Peter, Pittsburg PA

St. Mary, Aspen CO

Our Lady of Grace, Hoboken

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Centereach NY

Blessed Sacrament, Staten Island NY

St. Stephens, Middleburg VA

St. Heide & St. Hugh’s, NY,NY

St. Joseph Church, Rutherford NJ

Citadel Church, Brooklyn NY

St. Anthony of Padua, Passaic NJ

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Oct 02, 2018

Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston MA

After 150 years, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is undergoing a much needed restoration.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Rector Msgr. Kevin O’Leary chose Baker Liturgical Arts of Plantville CT to partake in the historical restoration, who in turn contracted The Keck Group, also known as “The Cathedral Pew Restorers”, to do the complicated refinishing work.

Removal of more than three thousand feet of pews took place in April, 2017.   The pews were built into the floor, and each and every pew had to be cut flush with the slightly raised floor level under the pews (which will be removed so that there is no elevation transition), leaving almost four inches of the pew ends in the floor.

This process will make the installation easier, as the ends will have been previously cut to size.

We are removing the existing divider wall and substituting new joiners, so parishioners can slide all the way across the pew, vs. half way.

The side aisle pews are also being shortened to make way for the new HVAC system.

Installation is planned prior to Easter, 2019.

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Dec 26, 2017

St. Patrick’s Cathedral/NY NY:

The Keck Group is once again back at St. Patrick’s in 2017 employing a modern epoxy-based anchoring system. 
Additionally, the Lady Chapel has been removed, as well as all of the South Transept Pews, to facilitate a heavy duty ramp from 51st street, through the south doors, across the nave, and up the stairs to the hallway surrounding the sanctuary.  Heavy glass panels are being erected at the entrance of the Lady Chapel in order to secure a somber relevance to the space, rather than the original wide open entrance.
Although we refinished the Lady Chapel pews twenty years ago, the Cathedral wanted to match them to the recently refinished pews in the nave and transepts, so this was accomplished prior to reinstallation.  Included were new kneelers and Atwood Hamlin Pew Form Cushions..
Work was completed in early October, 2017.

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Dec 26, 2017

Cathedral of St. John the Baptist/Paterson NJ

We finished installing the refinished pews in the beautifully restored Cathedral in May 2017. Our work was completed well before the commitment date of mid-May, and the modified and restored pews are one of the more vocal points of the restoration. The pews were modified for comfort, while still keeping the historical significance of the original pew design.

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Dec 26, 2017

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception/Syracuse NY

Once again, the busy month of August for end of summer installs, included the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Syracuse.
With the close cooperation of Ed and Mike King, the installation was concluded in one week without a hitch.
The original plan was to purchase new pews, but with our persuasion to have an existing pew refinished as a sample for comparison to new, the Cathedral chose to restore. 
See the refinished pews after installation.
Final-Pic

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Jun 20, 2016

Keck Group Finishes St. Joseph Project in Tight Turnaround Window

Msgr. James Swiader inspects pews being restored in our shop.

The first call for this project came from the Architects, HE2PD, Rockville Centre, to see if we could remove pews in the rear of the church for installation of a restored Paragallo organ. 

On the first visit, I had deja vu all over again. We had refinished these pews in the late 80’s, and now it was time for a slight color change and a refreshing refinish job. Instead of the scheme to refinish eight pews each week (pick up Monday and Reinstall Friday), we decided to accomplish the work in quarters, with a turnaround each 2 1/2 weeks. The challenge of seating was overcome with Keck lending the church 250 chairs that we moved around each pew installation.

Since the job started in late November, we agreed to have all of the pews in the church for Christmas, half refinished with the other half to be picked up on the Monday after Christmas.

The job was completed in January of 2016. Msgr. James Swaider, originally skeptical of the tight schedule, was elated with the beautifully refinished pews, and is anticipating the refinishing of all the exterior church doors and frames, set to begin in the spring.

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Dec 22, 2015

St. Agnes Cathedral is 5th Cathedral Project Since 2012

12/22/16

St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre NY

Our latest Cathedral Project, the fifth awarded The Keck Group since 2012, will begin its second restoration project since being constructed in 1935(the first in 1987).

The church was designated the Cathedral for the Diocese of Rockville Centre in 1957, and will begin the interior restoration of the interior by the removal of pews and furnishings to our shop for restoration on January 4th, 2016.

We will keep you updated on our web site during the project where we will be refinishing, modifying and replacing the kneelers with new wood kneelers.

church-news

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Oct 12, 2015

The Keck Group and Century Guild Team Up To Restore Duke Chapel Woodwork

Duke Chapel at Duke University

Located on the Duke University’s west Campus, Duke Chapel is as magnificent in structure as it is in ministry.

Construction of the Chapel began in 1930 and was completed two years later.

Towering more than 290 feet, The Duke Chapel is a tribute to the talent and the patience to construct such a magnificent Chapel which is the cornerstone of the Duke Campus.

Beginning in September 2015, the team of Century Guild, Durham NC and The Keck Group, NY, were commissioned to clean and restore all of the woodwork in the chancel and transepts, portions of which rise more than 80 feet. 

We are moving to completion by December 2015.

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Dec 19, 2014

Trusted To Care For Pews in Massive St. Patrick's Cathedral Restoration

For one of America’s most prestigious church facilities, this year has seen the kickoff of the biggest full-scale restoration in its history. And for a niche company based in Middletown, New York, the project has presented the most high-profile opportunity in its history to show what it can do.

New York’s legendary St. Patrick’s Cathedral (stpatrickscathedral.org) began work on March 17, 2013 – St. Patrick’s Day, of course – on a massive restoration that has involved everything from exterior and interior masonry to plaster, cast concrete, stain glass, bronze doors, and a wide variety of wood surfaces.

And when it comes to wood surfaces, no challenge is more important than the 400 pews that measure between 10 and 20 feet in length. The need to deploy fine craftsmanship to restore the pews to striking, impeccable condition prompted a call to The Keck Group.

Specialists in church pew restoration since 1972, The Keck Group has done work for churches as far away as Corpus Christi, Texas, although the company typically works in the eastern United States. The Keck Group has grown since its early days from 6,000 square feet of operation to 25,000 today, and has 13 full-time employees. With a specialty that absolutely demands the highest level of craftsmanship and attention to detail, The Keck Group’s growth has been the direct result of its excellence in this area. The work is complex and challenging, requiring precise care and intensive training for team members tasked with delivering a perfect finish.

While this is not the first time St. Patrick’s Cathedral has called on The Keck Group for help with pew restoration, the project is unprecedented in its size and scope.
“I would say it’s the most prestigious project we’ve done,” said Bob Koeck, the company’s founder, who has already overseen the complete refinishing of 200 pews that are ready to install.

If not for the gradual pace of the project, Koeck says the volume of the project could have been a serious challenge. The Keck Group’s normal production is 400 feet worth of pews per week. St.

Patrick’s Cathedral has 4,000 feet of pews all by itself – but the project is happening over a two-year period that allows The Keck Group to stay on schedule and still handle its normal workload from other churches.

“We take great care in making sure the end result is excellent. As we go through every step – taking the finish off, prepping, sanding, finishing – we have to apply best practices and tremendous attention to detail.” Koeck said. “A project this large would be one-fifth of our annual volume if it was done all at once, but since it’s being done over a two-year period everything has been able to stay on schedule.”

Ron Pennella, who is heading the restoration project for St. Patrick’s Cathedral, said The Keck Group won the job as a result of a rigorous bidding process that considered experience and skill, as well as price.

“They have history with the cathedral, they’re a local vendor, and I’ve worked with them before in the past,” Pennella said. “And Bob is a great guy, but at the end of the day it all came down to their qualifications, experience, and eventually price, which is a driving issue in today’s market.”

According to Rolando Kraeher, who serves as project architect and manager from the firm Murphy, Burnham & Buttrick, the challenging nature of the project made the type of experience offered by The Keck Group an absolute must.

“You don’t want to hire someone who has no experience, otherwise we would have to be holding their hands,” Kraeher said. “There is a lot of craftsmanship that goes into this, and as the architect you can’t specify what the level of finish needs to be and what they need to do, so you have to let the craftsman do their job – and that comes with experience. Bob Koeck and his company – they have it.”

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Dec 02, 2014

St. Michael’s Parish, Exeter NH

St. Michael’s Church in Exeter New Hampshire recently completed a total renovation of their nave and sanctuary.

After months of negotiating, advising, conjoling and finally getting approval to refinish one of their pews as a sample for the entire project (which proved to be the turning point in their decision to choose our company), the Keck Group won out to win the contract for refinishing the pews.

Starting out as colonial style pews with white inserts on both the pews and frontals, we were able to go with a completely natural finish, as evidenced by the before and after pictures.

The church was extremely pleased by the finished product as evidenced, below, by the unsolicited testimonials from the Clerk of the works, and the architect.
 
Dianne - Architect: Said about the project, “The pews are absolutely beautiful!  Everything I had hoped for!", “Great work to all.”
 
Clerk: “Hi Terry/Bob:  the pews continue to get many praises. Wishing you both a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

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Dec 02, 2014

Cardinal Dolan Blesses the New Catholic Charities Facility

On 4/4/13 Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, visited and blessed the new Catholic Charities Facility in Middletown, NY.

The festive occasion marked the grand opening/ribbon cutting of the modern facility located at 305 North Street, in the building next to The Keck Group, Inc., the pre-imminent pew refinishing company in the country.

Bob Koeck, President of The Keck Group, Inc, and Keck Properties, LLC, owners of the building, tried to coerce the Cardinal to come next door to see his pews from St. Patrick's Cathedral being refinished, but time was short, and he apologized for not being able to see the refinishing process first hand.

We were lucky, though, to get Msgr. Kevin Sullivan to get a look and comment on the progress of the project and the beautiful transformation of the grand old pews.

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Dec 02, 2014

The Keck Group Welcomes New Catholic Charities Facility to Middletown

The Keck Group, which owns and operates a state-of-the-art pew refinishing facility in Middletown, NY, is proud to welcome a new next-door neighbor, Catholic Charities Services of Orange County.

Keck Properties recently negotiated with Catholic Charities at 1011 First Avenue to lease and subsequently build out an 8,000-square-foot office/conference facility in the Keck Group's 11,000-square-foot adjoining space. Agreement was reached in April of this year and the build-out was completed by the appointed deadline four months later.

Keck Properties finished the construction on time and in full compliance with all building, safety, and fire regulations. Catholic Charities took possession of their new custom-designed space on August 1, 2012, and from there they will continue to serve the community by offering their services to neighbors in need in the Middletown, NY area.

Bob Koeck, president of The Keck Group, Inc., is thrilled with this new arrangement. Still, he is happily amazed at how the agreement and resulting lease came to fruition: "In my wildest dreams I would have never envisioned having Catholic Charities, an integral part of the Archdiocese of New York, as a tenant," he said. "And to think, it all came about because of a chance meeting in the '70s."

Looking back, Koeck recalls how representatives of the New York Catholic Community, who had heard about his church pew restoration business, approached him for more information: "Instead of just explaining to them what we did and what was involved in the restoration and refinishing process, we invited them to take a tour of our facility. As we were showing them around, pointing out the pews and other religious furnishings in various stages of restoration, we started to form a sort of bond. We really clicked."

That one meeting led to their first business contract and gradually developed into a long-term working relationship--one that has flourished for over forty years.

Koeck adds that he is really looking forward to the upcoming dedication of the new facility by Cardinal Dolan on April 14th, 2013. And this time he hopes to give the Cardinal a tour of the shop. Why? So His Eminence can see first hand, pews from his own congregation being refinished—the ones that came from and will be returned to the famous St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.

caption: The new site of Catholic Charities Services of Orange County owned by Keck Properties, LLC, adjacent to The Keck Group's church pew restoration and refinishing facility in Middletown, NY.

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